A controlled sintering process for more permeable ceramic hollow fibre membranes

Zhentao Wu, Rami Faiz, Tao Li, Benjamin F.K. Kingsbury, K. Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, a new controlled sintering process has been proposed to improve the water permeation of asymmetric alumina hollow fibre membranes. In this process, polymer binder (PESf) in precursor fibres is purposely pre-treated in static air at selected temperatures (400-600. °C) to have it partially removed, prior to be converted into carbon in a second sintering step (1450. °C) under an oxygen free environment. During the second sintering step, proper bounding between ceramic particles takes place, while the growth of ceramic grains is effectively suppressed due to the presence of carbon. The carbon in the voids formed by particle packing also acts as a pore structure "stabilizer" and can be removed easily via subsequent thermal treatment in static air at 800. °C. Compared to the membranes with the same asymmetric structure and sintered in static air only (i.e. normal sintering), the membranes sintered using the new controlled sintering process shows water permeation flux is approximately 13 times higher, together with comparable mechanical strength. Moreover, this original concept of using the polymer binder to design the pore structure of ceramic membranes can be transferred to other inorganic materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Asymmetric structure
  • Ceramic hollow fibre membrane
  • Controlled sintering
  • Water permeation


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